Journal 01/30/2012 (a.m.)

    • During an afternoon speech at The Villages, a vast retiree complex here Sunday, Newt Gingrich was suddenly energized as he railed against Wall Street and Washington, lumping them in as the establishment that wants to defeat him.

      “I do not believe Wall Street can give enough money to run enough negative ads to hide from the truth,” he declared. “The truth is we’ve been served badly, the American people, by the establishment in this country in both parties — let’s be clear about it — in both parties. And it’s time somebody stood up for hard-working, taxpaying Americans and said ‘enough!’ And if that makes the old order uncomfortable, my answer is, good!”

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Journal 01/29/2012 (a.m.)

    • Afterward one voter, Ronnie Kimble, 66, a retired shipyard analyst, said Mr. Gingrich reminded him of Huey P. Long, the 1930s Louisiana governor who rose on fiery populist rhetoric and ultimately succumbed to corruption. “I’m really getting tired of hearing the Republicans fighting against Republicans,” he said.
    • To Mr. Gingrich, both Wall Streeters and complacent party elders are part of the “elites” he wants to vanquish. He feels a lack of gratitude from the many leading Republicans who are backing Mr. Romney, even though Mr. Gingrich was the one who led the party to its first majority in the House in four decades.
    • Across Florida this week, Mr. Gingrich’s rallies drew thousands of chanting, vociferous supporters eager to embrace his insurgency against what he calls the party establishment, promising to unite the Tea Party and the conservative base. And while he does not regularly live up to the caricature of “Nuclear Newt,” erratic and prone to temper tantrums, he is sufficiently unscripted and blunt to provide a sharp contrast to Mitt Romney’s caution.

       “I love his outspokenness,” said Rhonda Douglas, 49, a waitress who attended a rally in Coral Springs, Fla. “I’m tired of this sugar-coating nice guy,” she said, referring to Mr. Romney but also to every politician who seems packaged and scripted. “They don’t mean anything they say.”

    • “What has galvanized people is that they are absolutely convinced that he will be Obama’s worst nightmare in a debate,” said Michael Goldrick, a co-chairman of the Gingrich campaign in Hillsborough County.
    • But there is a thin line in politics between appealing bluster and self-destructive ego, and the same qualities that appeal to his supporters are the ones opponents cite in concluding that he is too hot-headed and undisciplined to win the Republican nomination, beat President Obama and be an effective president.
    • “He occasionally has a good idea,” said John H. Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff who is backing Mitt Romney, “but if you’re dealing with the presidency, where important decisions count like nuclear exchanges, batting .500 is not a good percentage.”
    • Nothing these days drives Mr. Gingrich closer to apoplexy than the way the Republican establishment and conservative commentators have closed ranks to oppose him for fear that a Gingrich nomination will be a debacle for the party. The latest to join the stop-Gingrich brigade was Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, who urged Republicans to act “before it is too late.”

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Journal 01/26/2012 (p.m.)

    • “Just in general, we need a leader,” Franks said. “Somebody who can just put their foot down and say, ‘We’re mad as … and we’re not taking it anymore.’”

       

      The sense of anger is palpable among Gingrich’s middle-class supporters. They’re often fearful about their own financial situation and think D.C. doesn’t need to be changed — it needs to be blown up.

    • Another Romney adviser was more derisive of the Anybody-but-Mitt Republicans.

       

      “They like preachers,” the adviser said of the tea party demographic. “If you take them to a tent meeting, they’ll get whipped into a frenzy. That’s how people like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich get women to fall into bed with them.”

    • Chortled Craig Shirley, a Gingrich supporter who’s writing a biography of the former speaker: “Can you imagine going to a garage mechanic in Daytona and saying, ‘We need an executive in Washington?’ He’d hit you with the wrench I’d hand him.”
    • “The Romney campaign has been the cucumber-sandwiches-on-silver-trays campaign,” said GOP strategist Alex Castellanos. “Newt is running a torches-and-pitchforks campaign. Who do you think Republicans would want to storm the castle with? When you’re storming the castle, you don’t care if your leader has slept around, is on his 50th wife — you just want somebody who says, ‘Let’s go kill them!’”
    • As the Republican race moves to a state defined by the extremes in recession-era America — where the underwater and unemployed live just a few miles from the 1 percent — a sharp class divide is emerging between the two top contenders.

      Mitt Romney’s crowds look like something out of the president’s suite at a University of Florida football game — prosperous, trim, Tattersall-clad and supportive but not rowdy.

    • Newt Gingrich supporters, with their spray-painted signs, American flag tees, flip-flops and fanny packs, more closely resemble a group that would fit in nicely playing a few bucks at the dog track.
    • Republicans prefer to ignore class differences within their auto mechanic and hedge funder coalition, but the establishment vs. insurgency battle between Romney and Gingrich increasingly resembles the beer track-wine track epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
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Journal 01/25/2012 (p.m.)

    • Gingrich encourages Republican voters to believe he should be nominated because he would do best in the (at most) three debates with Barack Obama. So, because Gingrich might sparkle during 41 / 2 hours of debates, he should be given four years of control of nuclear weapons? Odd.
    • But even if you look beyond the exit poll, it’s pretty clear that the tea party mentality is very much a part of what Gingrich has been able to accomplish. The same tea party mentality that was responsible for Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Ken Buck, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul is now helping Gingrich.

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Journal 01/24/2012 (a.m.)

    • That brings me back to  Newt’s first wife, Jackie. She was his former high school geometry teacher, and  he married her when he was 19 and she was 26. Some find that another sign Newt  has some sort of deep-seated psychological problem with women.
    • There is a much larger  issue here than Newt’s character, and that is the character of the Republican  base. The standing ovation he received for his vicious and duplicitous attack on  the media is stark testimony to the hypocritical nature of the aptly named base.  After all, these are the people for whom “family values” supposedly trumps all  else.

       

      The failure of the other  candidates to bring up the character issue is stark testimony to their hypocrisy  and cowardice as well. Hypocrisy in politics is hardly news, but the level to  which these and other “family values” politicians have sunk boggles the mind.  Mark Foley, John Ensign, Larry Craig, David Vitter and Mark Sanford come  immediately to mind, but they are many more.

    • According to a study  cited here, “Republicans  were involved in 61% of sex scandals in the past 10 years, whereas Democrats  were involved in just 39%. Moreover, 34% of the total number of scandals were  gay scandals (i.e, involving an ostensibly straight politician and a same-sex  partner), with Republicans accounting for 78.5%  of all gay scandals. Republicans were also  involved in 66% of the underage scandals.”

    • They’ve embraced  characters like  Trump, Cain and Gingrich,  who have no character and no apparent family values. Many of them were willing  to settle for dullards like Bachmann and Perry or loonies like Santorum and  Paul. And when it’s all said and done, despite their supposed high principles,  they will vote for Romney, a man many of them deem a spineless,  unprincipled waffler and a member of a heretical cult.

       

      I’d add that he is also  arrogant, condescending and  oblivious to the needs of others. But none of that will matter to the Republican  base come November.

    • Romney is a former governor and businessman who has never held national  office, never been a congressman and never worked in Washington, and he’s the  establishment guy.  
       
      Gingrich worked in Washington since 1979,  was speaker of the house, was a lobbyist connecting Washington organizations to  his friends on Capitol Hill, and runs a number of think-tanks, PACs and  political organizations, and he’s the insurgent outsider.  
       
      I  knew the Tea Party was backwards,
    • The grass roots yearn for a fighter who is prepared to take on Obama in the most  strident and confrontational way possible — to call him out as a socialist or  worse. The applause Gingrich generates at debates with his defiant and indignant  performances gives voice to this visceral urge among many conservatives.
    • The damage to Romney’s campaign could extend beyond South Carolina for this  reason: The central premise of Romney’s candidacy is that he is the best man to  beat Obama. But in South Carolina, Gingrich borrowed directly from Obama’s  playbook, launching the exact same attack Obama will use against Romney this  fall if he is the nominee. Romney responded with all the agility of a deer  caught in headlights. He had a chance to show just how he would take the fight  to Obama in November — and he failed miserably.

       

      This should raise a question in the minds of GOP voters: If Romney can’t  defend free-market capitalism against Gingrich, how will he be able to defend it  in the fall against Obama?

  • tags: politics

    • The disguise part is clear, too. Gingrich has used his debate skills — and his instinct to hit the raw nerves of conservatives — to camouflage considerable weaknesses as a candidate. The three wives, and cheating on and leaving the first two while they were ill; inconsistency on the most consequential conservative causes of the past decade; episodic bouts of self-importance severe even by politicians’ standards; and countless tales of erratic leadership in crisis.
  • You have to ask?

    tags: politics

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Journal 01/23/2012 (a.m.)

  • tags: politics

    • In a press conference in New York City today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared that he never intended to qualify for the ballot in Missouri and that failing to meet the deadline was “a conscious decision, not an oversight.”
      Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump shake hands after they met and spoke to the media in New York.  (Seth Wenig – AP) 
       

      The primary is non-binding; it is followed a month later by caucuses where Missourians pick their convention delegates. But every other major candidate is participating in the primary, which gives the public an idea of where Show Me State voters stand.

       

      “We have never participated in beauty contests,” Gingrich said when asked about his failure to qualify for the ballot. “We didnt participate in Ames [the Iowa straw poll], we didnt participate in P5 [a Florida straw poll].”

      A Gingrich campaign spokesman previously argued that the campaign skipped Missouri because of the high filing fee.

      But failing to qualify for the ballot was widely seen as a sign of Gingrich’s lack of campaign organization.

      Another sign is the papers he filed in New Hampshire. His papers were sloppily written in pen and he fell 13 short of the required 40 delegates.

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Journal 01/17/2012 (a.m.)

    • Of course, the Tea Party faithful also claim that theirs is a movement of ideas, in many cases the same ideas that Goldwater and Reagan espoused. But they tend to emphasize quixotic crusades — the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which established the election of United States senators by popular vote, or Representative Ron Paul’s mission to abolish the Federal Reserve. Beyond this, “candidates who claimed the mantle of fiscal conservatism had no real plans for reducing government expenditures beyond the conservative pursuit of politics-as-warfare,” Mr. Kabaservice writes. They favor “cutting programs that benefited Democratic constituencies while preserving programs that benefited Republican constituencies and avoiding any serious reform of defense spending or middle-class entitlement programs.”

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